Friday, July 15, 2011

Chapter 31

     Angus and Catherine cast sail on "the Belle" going up river to the Drayton plantation.  The night sky unfolded a spectacular display of stars and a clear view of the coast line as well as the headwaters of the Alligator river, the pond and the memorable field of honor.  But no sooner had they time to ponder its events were they nearing the bend and the site of Drayton Manor.  A torch was lit at the mausaleum of the Colonel.  They paused there momentarily to honor him.
     "Will another mausaleum be built for Mrs. Drayton?" Catherine asked.
     He shook his head. "I do not know what will happen now that they are both gone."
     As they spoke, the younger son, William Drayton came around the house to greet them.
     "William!" Angus said, putting his arm around his shoulders.  "Thank you for sending the note. We are so sorry for this news."
     "We loved her very much," Catherine said spontaneously.
     "Your room is prepared.  Please stay as long as you wish."
     The next morning a crowd gathered as Mrs. Drayton was placed in a grave beside the mausoleum. William read a scripture from his prayer book, then spoke briefly about the goodness of his parents.  The sound of his voice was tenderly humble and choking with tears.  Angus lingered at the grave for a long while. His heart was filled with kind memories, he was overcome with sadness.
     "I 'ave lost a friend," he told Catherine. Then he cried his heart out.
     Catherine put her arms around him.  "Never hath I known such kindness to a friend as you gave to the widow. And she was so wise in encouraging our marriage."
     "She did more than that....she stirred my conscience, my duty, to overcome pride, when she sent me to Port Royal."   He stopped crying to look into her eyes.  "I may not have come to get you, Catherine, were it not for her."
     "Yes you would, Angus.  If ever there is one thing that I can depend on, it is your good nature..  And she was correct when she said that I would learn to love you.  For I do!  At this moment, I think that I love you more than myself."
     "Then this sad moment is turned glad! You are my happiness and I shall love you forever."
     He took a white linen handerchief from his pocket and wiped the tears from his eyes. Now that the Draytons were gone from the earth, he alas had Catherine.
    That afternoon when they returned to Ashley Loche. Angus felt the need to work in the fields and not think of his loss.   He removed his fine clothes and put on some coveralls. Then followed the dirt foot path the rice fields. It was a perfect day.  White clouds drifted across a clear blue sky and a coolling breeze blew across the river.  He could smell the pungent fragrance of honeysuckle growing in the woods. A field of tassling yellow corn was ripe for harvest on both sides of the path and from a far distance he could see fields of white cotton and ahead of him in the paddies thrived the orange long-grain of the rice plants.  The majesty of the Ashley Loche plantation in bloom was a picture of paradise, a dream come true.  All that he had worked for was bearing fruit. As he drew near the paddies, he saw Duncan ahead of him.
     "Hey, pa!  Wait up!"

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